By Dana Bennett, President of the Nevada Mining Association:
In January, Governor Brian Sandoval stood before the Nevada Legislature to deliver his final State of the State speech. It was an opportunity for a successful governor to tout his achievements. Those triumphs include recruiting more than 200 companies to Nevada; adding 38,000 new jobs to the state’s economy; growing the state’s renewable energy portfolio; and overhauling the way schools are funded in Nevada.
Additionally, for the first time in recent memory, the Silver State’s mining industry was recognized in the biennial address: “We all know the significance of lithium to our emerging sectors in advanced manufacturing and renewable energy, and we know that mining is critical to the future of the new Nevada economy.”
Governor Sandoval has long been supportive of Nevada’s original STEM industry, and this mention of miners is a refreshing honor at a time where many feel the industry has been under attack.
Brief as his mention of the industry was, the Governor’s remarks covered a lot of territory. He highlighted the critical role Nevada mines play in advanced technology, reiterated the importance of mining in the state’s economy, and sent a message to lawmakers about the significance of this industry to the future.
Lithium is a hot topic right now, and this state is right at the center of the conversation. Nevada is home to the only lithium mine in North America, and the new Gigafactory will assemble batteries that contain tons of it. Your smartphone, your laptop, your camera, and maybe even your watch rely on lithium for power. Lithium’s critical role in energy storage has made Nevada a hotbed for lithium exploration. More than 8,000 claims for the mineral have been staked in Nevada in just the last two years.
But excitement about lithium should not distract from the critical role that other Nevada minerals play in advanced technology. Nevada’s gold can be used in the most advanced technology; its insulating properties make it a favorite of astronauts. Nevada silver is used in solar panels, allowing millions across the globe to harvest the energy of the sun for domestic use. Farms and ranches, which use innovative technologies as they stretch to feed more and more people, depend on Nevada’s diatomite for pest control.
Governor Sandoval presented the Legislature with an opportunity to embrace Nevada’s mining industry. Lawmakers are in the position to allow the current fragile recovery to continue unfettered by burdensome restrictions. With this assistance, one of Nevada’s foundational industries can emerge from these recent challenges stronger than ever.
This article appears in the Spring edition of the Elko Daily Free Press’ Mining Quarterly